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Looking for a fun Christmas or winter activity that incorporates science, technology, engineering, and/or math? Christmas-Winter STEM / STEAM Challenges are the perfect activities because they engage your students in brain-busting work disguised as fun!
The basic premise:
Working against a criteria/constraints list in groups, students will build waiters’ trays designed to hold “snowy” 3D solids in an indoor relay race.
Note: This is the printable version. If you are in a 1:1 / paperless classroom, you will want to check out the digital option for use with GOOGLE SLIDES (TM) instead.
If you have questions about which version is right for you, please feel free to leave me a question using the product Q&A below.
NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8
- Links to my 5-part video series on getting started with STEM challenges
- Materials and timing
- Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)
- Measuring results
- Universal STEM Challenge Notes & How to Use Student Handouts Post-design extension activities list
- Link to a video walk-through of the challenge
- Criteria & Constraints List (color and black & white; editable version provided)
- Design Analysis Handouts (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students included) (color and black & white)
- 3 Score Card Options (editable)
- 20 3D solid nets
- Discussion Questions (in color and B&W)
- Snowman character writing activity
- Writing templates
- Process Flow Map
- Math Extension
This is one of five challenges available in the Late Winter STEM Challenge bundle at a ~40% discount!
This resource is also available in the STEM CHALLENGE YEAR-ROUND MEGA-BUNDLE at an even greater discount!
Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:
(Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified.)
– 3D solids or nets & glue
– Narrow cardboard strips (4 – 10)
• Cereal & tissue boxes work well. To save yourself time, give groups a box and add direct students to cut strips of a certain size (e.g. no wider than 1 inch)
– Coffee filters
– Craft sticks (4-8)
– Straws (4-8)
– Pipe cleaners (5-10)
– Masking tape (12 – 24 in.)
– 3x5 in. index cards (5-10)
– Paperclips and/or brass brads (4-8)
• Rubber bands
• Single hole punch
• Ping Pong or playground balls (if you want spheres in the challenge)
• Garbage or shopping bags (for shape storage when not in use)
Benefits of this STEM Design Challenge:
- Focus on critical thinking, problem solving, and application of learning
- Helps students develop growth mindset traits like persistence and resilience
- High levels of student engagement
- The potential to hit upon all NGSS ETS standards depending on the depth and number of iterations you choose to implement in your classroom (modifications included)
- Highly flexible and differentiated for materials, timing, grade levels, and rigor.
Each design iteration should be planned for ~60 min. if you are including data gathering and analysis rather than just building for fun. If you add extension activities, you will need to adjust timing accordingly.
You might also like these resources:
STEM Challenges & Bundles (grades 2 – 8):
Please check out the video preview to see the challenge, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!
Video preview music credit:
"Carefree" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License